Tonight, on his handover from Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell threw a helluva teaser out there. He said that Arizona Kyrsten Sinema was into a closed door meeting with fellow Democrats to discuss voting rights and filibuster reform.
But it was the makeup of the rest of the room that was so intriguing. Among the other Democratic Senators attending were Vermont independent Angus King, Montana Senator Jon Tester, and New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan. What makes this interesting is that all three of those Senators had been stoutly opposed to reforming or nuking the filibuster a year ago. But all of them had changed their minds, and now supported filibuster reform for voting rights.
What makes the cheese more binding is the fact that this meeting takes place less than 8 hours after President Biden made a speech in which he made it perfectly clear that he and Senate Majority Schumer were now at the point that they were ready to make their two wayward children put-up-or-shut-up on civil rights legislation. In front of cameras, and on the record.
The fact is that Sinema is particularly vulnerable. The state Democratic party has long been critical of her Senatorial antics, as well as her stand-offish attitude towards her own constituents. In the wake of her resistance to the Build Back Better plan, and carving out a niche in the filibuster to pass voting legislation, it led to a successful Vote of no confidence in the state party, meaning Sinema will not have state party support in 2024. And there is a strong grassroots campaign out there to urge popular Democratic House member Ruben Gallego to challenge her in the 2024 primaries. She needs all the friends she can get right now.
Is this meeting a lifeline off of a very lonely island for Sinema, and is it about to place Judas Joe Manchin on an even lonelier island? Biden purposefully did not embarrass either Senator today by referring to them by name, but he left no doubt in his speech as to whom he was specifically speaking about. And now, within 8 hours of the speech, Sinema is suddenly listening to counseling voices.
As most of you already know, I have long thought of Sinema as the weak link in the chain. She’s a glory hound who got in over her head. But if in fact Sinema takes the exit ramp and sees the light, that throws everything back on Manchin. Which is the stickler.
Just how does a rich, spoiled, pampered Blue Dog Democrat view his place in history. As President Biden put it, does he side with MLK or George Wallace? Does he side with John Lewis or Bull Connor? The whole problem is that Manchin is such an egotistical character that there’s no way to know. Don’t touch that dial.